“The key to meditation is to focus on your breathing.”
- I heard it from somewhere… I think ( - Jujimufu)
“The key to getting computer work done is to focus on keeping your hands on the keyboard.”
“Keyboard shortcutting is like Keyboard tricking”
Remember this next statement and accept it dogmatically: People who get computer work done most efficiently, get it done using a keyboard. They use shit-loads of keyboard shortcuts. (Exceptions are photo or video manipulation, which still benefit from gratuitous use of both stock and custom keyboard shortcuts.) People don’t get work done on tablets or phone apps, those technologies have a different purpose.
Nor do people get work done while lounging with a laptop.
Don’t buy into the idea that desktop computers and laptops are going extinct. They are not. As long as people desire to be better than other people they will always fall back onto the best tools and best methods for being better: in the realm of content creation and getting computer work done...
- Editing video and image media
- E-mailing. Socializing.
- Homeworking. Researching.
- Writing. Journaling. Logging.
- Doing any sort of business activities.
A computer with a keyboard is the best tool. So lock yourself in a tiny room with a computer. Take a seat. Put your hands on the keyboard. Type. Type. Type you son-of-a-bitch. Type. And take some psycho-stimulant drugs to power you through to the end of the process.
My own keyboarding journey
Not long ago, I came to these realizations about keyboarding and desktop computing and had a playful idea: pursue keyboard shortcut wizardry. I looked up some new ones for my favorite programs, then I started drilling them with a program called shortcut foo.
I even added a Daily in my HabitRPG game for drilling keyboard shortcuts (hotkeys).
The results from this playful idea have freaked me out. A whole slew of problems I didn’t know were resolvable by becoming a dogmatic keyboarder have been resolved.
- Clearing my e-mail inbox? Keyboarding did it.
- Helping me to save more money? Keyboarding did it.
- Making PC work faster and more fun? Keyboarding did it.
- Reducing my writing perfectionist tendencies? Keyboarding did it.
- Reducing the amount of time I sat daily? Keyboarding did it.
- Enabling me to train more, harder, and better? Keyboarding did it.
How keyboarding cleared my e-mail inbox
Automated filtering and labeling, 5 sentence rules, e-mail games, timers. These never helped me. Then, while learning shortcuts for Windows OS, gmail, and my browser, and then practicing them to get good at them, I started noticing my inbox was rapidly clearing. Why was this happening? Because using keyboard shortcuts was helping me keep my hands on my keyboard, which forced me to maintain an optimal work posture and position, which helped me maintain focus. Alternatively, mousing is what I do when I surf around the internet. Clicking links and scrolling down web pages. Mousing allowed me to slump and zone out.
So I'd mouse for awhile and then need to type something. What happened? I would adjust my chair position, my feet position, and I would straighten up! I would get into work posture.
Note: For more info on the glasses I'm wearing go read the bottom of this page.
I noticed forcing myself to keep both hands on the keyboard forced me to maintain a semblance of this productive work posture. I realized even the posture by itself is enough to make me feel more ready to get something done. Keeping my hands on the keyboard just reinforces the “get it done” attitude. It works in the same way that adopting confident body language when you’re not confident makes you feel more confident. (Fake it until you make it really works.) So maintaining a work posture by keeping my hands on the keyboard made me feel more ready to work. To keep my hands on the keyboard I had to use shortcuts. And keeping my hands on my keyboard prevented me from breaking the workflow. Thus: E-mails got answered. And continue to get answered since I figured this out months ago.
How keyboarding helped me to save more money
For me, shopping online is a habit perpetuated by a craving for productivity. I get a feeling of productivity when I buy stuff I think I could use to make things more convenient or effective in my daily life. So I crave productivity. I shop online. I feel productive. Shopping online on a computer requires me to scroll and click with my mouse to navigate html pages. So using the mouse less results in less shopping.
People who have read the book, The Power of Habit, Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg will recognize these images which I created based on his illustrations in his book.
By substituting the mousing cue with a keyboarding cue, I get the productivity payoff reward, with a routine consisting of typing and working instead of scrolling and shopping. I still get the productivity payoff reward but I don't spend money. Of course this doesn’t stop me from shopping online with my android device in a more recreational time, but if I shop less at a computer I’ll shop less on a portable device (as I have discovered). So indeed, keyboarding can save money.
How keyboarding made PC work faster and more fun
When you use keyboard shortcuts to their full potential you end up flying around the workstation interface. This saves time, and this looks really cool, and you will end up taking pride in this style of using the computer. It’s not only fun in a challenging way (at first) but it also can make you feel good about yourself.
Co-workers who have loomed over me to discuss something on my computer screen have actually commented on the way I use my keyboard “How are you doing that?” I feel good about myself in the same way someone asks “How do you do all that?” when I trick. I’m learning keyboard tricking, and because it’s fun and challenging I tend to enjoy watching the screen progress from boot up to a cleared inbox and a half written document without ever groping my mouse.
How keyboarding is reducing my writing perfectionist tendencies
Writers and Graphic artists often use this warmup protocol: “15 minutes without removing the pen from the paper” - this way they are forced to get in “do” mode without breaking their flow. This same protocol would be analogous to a “15 minutes without removing your hand from the keyboard.” Doing this forces you to get into “do” mode. You begin to "do" homework, writing projects, e-mails, blog posts, etc.
When I mouse, I scroll, reread, copy/paste, I get distracted or lost. My workflow is broken. I begin second guessing. Suddenly the e-mail becomes a draft or I open a new browser tab or a new program or something else. When I am resisting the urge to touch the mouse, I am resisting the urge to abandon my flow.
How keyboarding reduced the amount of time I sat daily
If you're getting more computer work done, faster, then you can untether yourself more freely from your computer chair.
But I had to use an extra trick to really make this work that involved TURNING ON and TURNING OFF the computer more often. So when I needed to get some computer work done, my flow was:
- TURN ON computer.
- Warm up hands while computer boots.
- Write down what I need to do on computer before touching keyboard or mouse.
- Put hands on keyboard. Get into flow. Finish work.
- TURN OFF computer.
TURN OFF your computer when you're done with your task. Don't just leave it running and walk away. Turn it off. Have a task in mind, do it, and then turn off your computer. I'll repeat it again. Turn off your computer when you are done with your task. Turn it off. Turn your computer off. That's the secret to sitting less at a computer. Turn it off. I also have more tips to maximize computer time.
How keyboarding has made me want to train more, harder, and better
I notice success in one area of life helps in other areas. I’m merely making a case for changing your relationship with the computer, so you succeed when you do it instead of wasting your time. Learn to keyboard like a pro means spending less time on a computer means more time available for off screen quests, and more time for training.
The training analogy for keyboarding
You can spend an hour training with easy body weight exercises like situps, pushups, jumping jacks, and burpees. This will do nothing to help you reach your full fitness potential.
Or you can spend an hour training with heavy squats, deadlifts, and advanced, gymnastic body weight exercises. These will craft a fine physique and make you strong as fuck, but these exercises have an initial learning investment many aren't willing to pay.
However, once you learn to do them, you never go back.
You can spend an hour at your computer mousing while only knowing two keyboard shortcuts (CTRL+C and CTRL+V for copy and pasting). This will never allow you to reach full efficiency potential with your computer work.
Or you can spend an hour at your computer in flow, using hundreds of keyboard shortcuts and never slouching into mouse-ville. This will grant more opportunities to free yourself from your computer so you can do other things, but these shortcuts have an initial learning investment many aren't willing to pay.
However, once you learn to use them, you never go back.
Mastering tons of keyboard shortcuts is the most useful skill I've picked up in years.